WinFast GF8800 GTS

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posted 11/8/2006 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
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You'll be hearing about the Lumenex Engine when the new cards are out. The Lumenex Engine consists of:
  • 16x Coverage Sampling Anti-Aliasing (CSAA)
  • 16x near perfect angle independent anisotropic filtering
  • 16-bit and 32-bit floating point texture filtering
  • Fully orthogonal 128-bit High Dynamic Range (HDR) rendering with all the above features
  • A full 10-bit display pipeline
Let's talk a little about Coverage Sampling Anti-Aliasing. Introduced in the GeForce 8800 series, the new anti-aliasing technique was designed to provide the highest quality image little hit on performance. NVIDIA states that you can use CSAA with close to the same speed as when using traditional 4x MSAA (multi-sample anti-aliasing).  Supposadly, you'll be experiencing a 10-20% decrease in performance with CSAA. The new algorithm is suppose to perform the 16 samples per pixel anti-aliasing without bogging down the memory. You can also now use HDR with AA, something that wasn't possible in previous NVIDIA cards.

To render textures at an angle accurately, a video card can use a process called anisotropic filtering to achieve this effect. In the past, the GPU would only filter textures at certain angles so as the performance hit wouldn't be as great. The shortcoming is that not all the textures go through the anisotropic filtering for accurate rendering. The Lumenex Engine doesn't have this limitation as it accounts for all angles of surfaces providing a more cleaner texture at different angles.

For High Dynamic Range, the Lumenex Engine offers 32-bit floating point precision for each color component for a total of 128-bits for HDR rendering. As mentioned earlier, you can now use HDR with AA without any problems in the GeForce 8800 line.

Along with support for over a billion colors, the features mentioned combined together form the Lumenex Engine. NVIDIA developed the set of features to offer great image quality. NVIDIA is really pushing image quality in this generation and this is part of their initiative to develop the highest quality graphics card out there.

Physics is something that NVIDIA is tackling more and more of and they're introducing Quantum Effects GPU-based physics in the GeForce 8800. This will help physics computations by using stream processors on the card to do the calculations. Things such as hair, water, and smoke can be all rendered by the GPU and free up some CPU power for other processes.

DirectX10 is getting a lot of hype recently with showings of the technology in games such as Crysis. The API is a big part of Windows Vista. The GeForce 8800 series are the first cards to provide support for such features as geomatry shaders and overall, Shader Model 4.0. With Vista coming out in January (November for corporations), the GeForce 8800 looks to be the only card to take advantage of DirectX 10 in Vista unless ATI does something in the next two months.

I've been a big proponent of PureVideo as all my HTPCs use NVIDIA's video processing. PureVideo HD takes it a step further as it's made for 720p, 1080i, and 1080p output. If you're going to be using an HD DVD or Blu-ray drive to watch HD video, PureVideo HD will help deliver smooth and crisp picture quality. The cards will be HDCP compliant so you'll be able to view HD content on HDCP compliant displays.

HQV

If you look at the pictures of the GTX card, you'll see not one but two SLI interfaces on top. While nothings announced officially from NVIDIA on support for more than two in SLI for the GeForce 8800, the secondary SLI link is there for future expansion. You can bet that NVIDIA will be hounded by questions of Quad-SLI support now but alas, there's nothing yet to talk about in that area for this card.

So all these new features, new architecture, new design adds up to a pretty fast card. How fast you ask? Before we get to the tests, the company states that a single GTX card will be faster than two GeForce 7900 GTX in SLI mode and the GeForce 7950 GX2 card as well. Can you say video card speed demons?

No doubt about it, these cards are made for extreme resolutions in gaming. With the GeForce 8800, you should be gaming at minimum of 1600x1200 NVIDIA states. If you have a high end LCD capable of 2560x1600, this card is made for you.Unfortunately , monitors with those specs are pretty pricey but then again if you can afford one of those you can probably afford a GeForce 8800 card as well.
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